The Occultist (1988) Review by RevTerry


Between 1986 and 1989, Tim Kincaid blessed the world with some awesome fucking trash. The man's work in that short era plays like a mix-tape of sleazy science fiction cliches and 80s b-movie tropes. Starting with Bad Girls Dormitory, a women in prison flick that flows through the normal fare like a checklist, and ending with a enjoyably odd ghost-revenge-comedy, She's Back (1989) with Carrie Fisher, Kincaid packed a 4 year period with some extremely satisfying cinematic junk food before disappearing from film for 10 years. He would later go on to have a lucrative, successful career under the name Joe Gage directing hardcore gay porn with a working class twist. I can't speak for his later stuff, but being familiar with his other work, I can almost guarantee it provides some quality cheese for someone. Plus- the idea of proletariat centered porn (or at least the version I have now formed in my head) is awesome. For some reason, I really enjoy the image I get of Tim Kincaid deciding to take a break from porn in the late 80s, slapping together some scripts and convincing a few companies (including Full Moon) to finance some of the most epitomized b-movies ever made. Then, just as tactfully as he enters, he gets bored and bounces out before the end of the decade, only to reemerge again as Joe Gage, blue collar smut director, 10 years later. It's got the workings of plucky allegory or story you tell a child before bed. Anyway, even with the his foray into trashy Sci-Fi/Action being pretty short, he left us a nice little pile of grimey tapes. His title Mutant Hunt (1987) was to be burned into my brain for years before I would actually see it, due to it's amazing box art alone and definitely could have been much more disappointing when I finally got a chance to view it. Each one of the flicks released during this time played off of different b-movie tropes already in existence, but with Kincaid’s pulpy style sprinkled in. Probably his most remembered would be Breeders (1986), a skin-tastic alien invasion flick which suffered a remake in ‘97, but almost all of the titles released found a audience being packed with as-advertised ridiculous plot and cornball action. A recent impromptu marathon of these films (at least the ones I have around the house) led to the realization that one title hasn't really received it's deserved love or at least notoriety, Kincaid's slight veer into detective noir, The Occultist (1988).
Barney(Joe Derrig) has just reluctantly taken control of the family business after his dad's passing. More a numbers guy himself, he struggles to keep up sales in the industry of nondescript personal security, that can range from renting out bodyguards to the sale of something called a barking doorbell, which we are told is a doorbell that barks. Luckily for barney and the company, he is offered a high paying job protecting a Caribbean despot(Anibal O. Lleras) and his family. It's just the case to put the company back in the black, but when he presents the idea to Harold(Richard Mooney), his father's associate, who worries the job may be too much for the book-minded Barney, he informs him that there is no one on the payroll available for such a dangerous mission. Within a few awkwardly timed seconds, Harold changes his mind and tells him there is one man - Waldo(Rick Gianasi), but he only works when he wants and “can't be bought”. Barney sees this as his chance to prove himself and attempts to recruit Waldo; who,as it turns out, is not only a deadly hand to hand fighter but a weaponized cyborg ,due to a work related accident. When we first meet the one of the kind, unbuyable human-gun he is apparently already on the case. He is in the midst rescuing the royal daughter(Jennifer Kanter) from some thugs, using a spring loaded hunting knife ,which I assume is disposable, because he just throws it on the ground afterwords. Later he tells Barney that he was already dispatched because he was so tight with Barney's father that they “didn't even need a handshake”. They have a drink, and Waldo informs him there is good chance his own life is in danger, then drops a few more shallow but cryptic lines before beating up a serendipitous bad guy. The duo accompanies the royal family to a high class function. Barney brings his best Hawaiian t- shirt (classy as fuck), but the fancy-ass shindig goes south when the Caribbean country’s starving rebels show up and start capping people. Of course nothing is what it seems or makes much sense, so it's up to the new partnership of Barney and Waldo to crack the case, or at least get the final kill before the credits. But first a bunch of action movie madness and non sequiturs, including one of the worst fight scenes I have ever seen and a bathroom full thugs getting shot up by a dick gun, all in the same fucking movie.
The film is a lightly related mash of dated cultural cliches, hard boiled tough guy acts, and slightly shoehorned science fiction elements. Kincaid probably would have held a few more attention spans had he kept it a little more simple plot wise, but the convoluted mess all falls together in a fun and energetic manner. Tone and pacing are lively and keep it moving. The messy espionage and Voodoo come across like a low rent adaptation of Ian Fleming's Live and Let Die but only heightened by the replacing the gaudy British guy with your unmarried but extremely likable uncle- who also happens to be a cyborg. As a side effect of the attempts at depicting cultural turmoil, the movie takes a few brakes for plank like dialog between characters with little spirit after the first few lines. It's hard to really know what's purposely a joke, unless they damn near wink at the camera, because every word is ridiculous. Despite being silly and probably offensive, the voodoo centered parts are fun. A secret, magical society in the film’s universe boils down to constantly making funny faces, 24 hour Mad Max raves and plenty of excuses for some blood. It all coalesces in to a conclusion that feels like maybe somebody forgot about some of the more random plot elements- but like some garbage furniture from IKEA, it still stands up well enough, even with some mystery pieces left in the box. 
Most of the film’s gore effects are well done for the time and style., The other prop elements, being of comic book- like believability, have some pretty hilarious moments but align with the film’s overall style. I was digging the bad guy’s shiny skull head-spiky thing. it looked like something an 11 year old metal head would draw in class, in a good way. Waldo’s powers are my favorite part of the film. While never really explained, he seems to have an endless amount of appendages to shoot bullets from. It kind of feels like someone just added “and he's a robot” to his character outline during development, it’s awesome. A majority of the lighting has that made-for-tv soft glow, and there aren't as many ambitiously colored moments like with Breeders and Mutant Hunt. Both the gore and nudity is a little light for the type of flick and mostly confined to the cartoon style Voodoo rituals.
The film contains one of the most shitacular fight scenes I have ever seen in my life. It's hard to even pinpoint what makes it so bad. Its angle is fixed in some tiny fucking office corner, which is doing the choreography no favors. The lackeys enter the scene from behind the camera, with our hero waiting in the middle, making it feel like a lot like an audition tape sent in for the WWF by a 90s trailer park teenager. The pacing, the tone, the whole fucking “fight”- it just has to be seen. Honestly, sometimes I watch this whole film over just to indulge in that moment of pure uncut suck (it comes in at about 49 minutes into the film), it is in a class of its own.
The Occultist is a enjoyably trashy mix of James bond and bad action TV gimmicks, accompanied by countless other influences. Maybe too many, as It never quite gets around to completing a thought- but it doesn't matter, Tim Kinkade, at the very least, knows how to make a bad movie a fun watch. It may have just been a few years in the late 80s, but the man brought some great garbage to cult cinema. That's more than I can say about a lot of you motherfuckers. Thanks Mr. Kincaid. Though, if by some chance you are reading this, please contact me. I have some mechanical and logistical questions about the dick gun.
I couldn't find a trailer, so here is my favorite scene.
| 1988
Director: Tim Kincaid
Writer: Tim Kincaid

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